After a 6-year-long wait, Mumbai's Coastal Road Project finally got a nod from the Environment Ministry and CM Devendra Fadnavis did not lose a day in patting his government’s back, along with taking a pot-shot at the previous government for its incompetency.
Political mileage apart, for Mumbaikars battling daily traffic nightmares along the Western Express Highway, the last hurdle crossed on this 30-km stretch of coastal road comes as a big relief. An 8-lane, toll-free road which could possibly reduce commute time between North to South Mumbai by almost 70 percent, is something India’s maximum city badly needs.
With all the decks cleared now, the Rs 15,000-crore project will be implemented by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).
The project will be taken up in 2 phases- Phase 1 connecting Nariman Point to Bandra Carter Road which will include an under ground tunnel and 2 bridges. Phase 2 will see bridging Bandra with Kandivali in the northern part.
The MCGM is confident that the project will see no further delays. "We have done a very detailed study keeping every stakeholder in mind and so the project will stick to the timeline and we hope to complete it within 4 years of its commencement," says Sanjay Muhkerjee, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects), MCGM .
Approvals for the Coastal Road Project have come amidst many protests and allegations as well. People have raised concerns on the destruction of mangroves that this project could cause. There’s also a possible displacement that the fishing community can face. Larger criticism by urban planners has been that the project benefits a very small percentage of Mumbai's population.
"This is a very narrow way of thinking, unless there is a dedicated BRTS along the route and open spaces for people to access, this project will not be a success," laments, Sudhir Badami, an Urban analyst.
But among the cheers and complaints are also real-estate stakeholders who are closely following the progress of this project. While the MCGM has made it clear that there is no room for commercial or residential development along the reclaimed land as per the CRZ norms, the fact that this project will improve connectivity has got everyone enthused. "The government is investing Rs 15,000 crore on this project; this goes to show that it will have greater implications for real estate along the corridor," says Jagannarayan Padmanaban, Director, CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory.
Developers, too, are placing their bets on these infra project to help boost Mumbai's efficiency. "The Coastal Road is an essential ingredient in completing Mumbai's 4 biggest infrastructural needs, namely the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link Road (MTHL), the Navi Mumbai International airport and the various Metro Phases," according to Niranjan Hiranandani, CMD- Hiranandani Group.
He hopes that this project will help India’s Financial capital, reclaim its position as a commercial leader, a spot it has lost to the NCR region due to its lagging infra. For now, the coastal road project seems to have reached the starting line and Mumbaikars are eagerly waiting for the finish line.